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Drucker-Colin, R; Bargas, J; Galarraga, E; Galindo-Charles, L; Hernandez-Lopez, S; Tapia, D; Garduno, J; Frias-Dominguez, C; Mihailescu, S (2008)

SEROTONINERGIC DORSAL RAPHE NEURONS POSSESS FUNCTIONAL POSTSYNAPTIC NICOTINIC ACETYLCHOLINE RECEPTORS

SYNAPSE 62(8):601-615
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Very few neurons in the telencephalon have been shown to express functional postsynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), among them, the noradrenergic and dopaminergic neurons. However, there is no evidence for postsynaptic nAChRs on serotonergic neurons. In this study, we asked if functional nAChRs are present in serotonergic (5-HT) and nonserotonergic (non-5-HT) neurons of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN). In rat midbrain slices, field stimulation at the tegmental pedunculopontine (PPT) nucleus evoked postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) with different components in DRN neurons. After blocking the glutamatergic and GABAergic components, the remaining eEPSCs were blocked by mecamylamine and reduced by either the selective alpha 7 nAChR antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA) or the selective alpha 4 beta 2 nAChR antagonist dihydro-beta-eritroidine (DH beta E). Simultaneous addition of MLA and DHPE blocked all eEPSCs. Integrity of the PPT-DRN pathway was assessed by both anterograde biocytin tracing and antidromic stimulation from the DRN. Inward currents evoked by the direct application of acetylcholine (ACh), in the presence of atropine and tetrodotoxin, consisted of two kinetically different currents: one was blocked by MLA and the other by DH beta E; in both 5-HT and non-5-HT DR neurons. Analysis of spontaneous (sEPSCs) and evoked (eEPSCs) synaptic events led to the conclusion that nAChRs were located at the postsynaptic membrane. The possible implications of these newly described nAChRs in various physiological processes and behavioral events, such as the wake-sleep cycle, are discussed.